Outsourced is a new NBC comedy on Thursday nights.
And...ay. That's about as far as we can go without expressing what needs to be said about this show.
How do we put this delicately? We'll treat it like ripping off a Band-Aid, painful and quick:
Outsourced is mildly offensive and fairly unfunny.
Phew, we feel better. Still, in the recent tradition of NBC comedy, we should remind you that 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation weren't all that stellar in the very beginning either. And there are a few bright spots. So here's the info on the show that we're sure in just a few months we'll be kicking ourselves for dissing...
Premieres Thursday, Sept. 23, 9:30-10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: Grey's Anatomy (ABC), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS), Fringe (Fox), Nikita (CW)
Cast: Ben Rappaport, Diedrich Bader, Sacha Dhawan, Rizwan Manji, Rebecca Hazlewood, Parvesh Cheena, Pippa Black
Status: We've seen the original pilot. Pippa Black has since replaced Jessica Gower in the role of resident office hottie, Tonya.
Outsourced focuses on Todd (a quasi-charming Ben Rappaport), a recent college graduate who is outsourced to Mumbai to manage a call center for a novelty-item manufacturer and his rag-tag team of employees/caricatures, all of whom are Indian. While the characters are semi-relatable, they are also standard office archetypes. There's Ravij (Rizwan Manji), the co-manager who secretly wants Todd to fail; Manmeet (Sacha Dhawan), the lovable and sexually inexperienced cute young guy; Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood), the beauty who develops a crush on Todd, and Gupta (Parvesh Cheena), the overly talkative co-worker no one pays attention to.
While it's not as offensive as some critics are making it out to be, Outsourced does rely heavily on cheap jokes and stereotypes. Indian food upsetting your stomach? Check. Mockery of Indian names? Yep. Making fun of arranged marriages? It's all here, folks! There are just too many obvious jokes at the expense of Indian culture. It feels like we're laughing at them, not with them. A shame because Rappaport is a standout new talent, and the rest of the cast seems solid.
The show's bosses assure us that they did not intend to insult Indian culture. "I think where we approach this is certainly not a mean-spirited place," says executive producer Robert Broden. "I don't think we'll be indulging in stereotyping." And executive producer and director Ken Kwapis added, "In this story, cultural confusion is a two-way street."
Outsourced's saving grace is the brief glimpses of heart and camaraderie between Todd and his employees. If the show focused more on the burgeoning friendships instead of relying on gimmicks, it'd be a lot more enjoyable. We suggest more genuine laughs, less culture clash. Here's hoping it can follow in Parks & Recreation's footsteps and get better over time, but right now, we're a bit skeptical.
Verdict: DVR it now so you can go back and watch it from the beginning when it gets good. (It could happen!)
What's your take on Outsourced? Share your thoughts in the comments!